Yet Another Month of Horror 2015 – Chapter 3

.
The Canadian Thanksgiving weekend provided one turkey and several tasty morsels: Leprechaun, The Canal, Tales That Witness Madness and Witchcraft.

 

Leprechaun (Mark Jones – 1993)
It didn’t really take me long to decide that the first film in the rather lengthy Leprechaun series (there’s six or seven of them in all I think) would be the end of the line for me. It’s not like I expected to be drawn into a series of horror-comedy films about an evil leprechaun, but nothing about this film gave me any reason to press forward. Everything is just mediocre. It’s not horrific or creepy or even suspenseful. And it was neither funny nor fun. That may be a subjective statement I suppose, but most of the humour is pretty basic and uninspired. Jennifer Aniston is actually pretty decent here in one of her earliest roles, but in the end I was simply bored. Warwick Davis is the titular little green guy, but his grotesque form just isn’t overly interesting after he cracks his first corny joke and gnashes his teeth. I guess there was an audience for this since they made more of them (apparently with different approaches and levels of comedy), but this particular one sure wasn’t made for me.

Would you like to know more…?

Occultober – Day 27 – Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural

Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural
The full title of the film is the key to its real meaning (and is much more accurate than the straight up horror title Lady Dracula that it is also known as). The supernatural is certainly afoot in the movie, but this is a young girl’s viewpoint and it’s her own impression as to what the temptations and changes are that she is facing as she moves towards womanhood and how they manifest themselves. Though not quite as gorgeous and creative as something like the amazing Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders was in depicting a teenage girl’s whirlwind of life changes or as scary and bloody as that same aspect is depicted in Ginger Snaps, Lemora does bring a dreamlike, slightly off-kilter feel to the story of the very sheltered and religious 13 year-old Lila.

She leaves her hometown after receiving a cryptic letter from a woman named Lemora asking her to come see her sick father. He had recently run off without a trace after murdering his wife and her lover. On the way there, she experiences a creepy bus trip, sees ghoulish creatures chasing them and witnesses a battle between those ghouls and a group of cloaked dracula-like beings after the bus breaks down. After passing out, she ends up at Lemora’s house and winds up being kept in a cell. She is eventually welcomed inside the proper house after being told the cell was to protect her from what was outside – not to keep her inside. Lemora, though extremely pale and with dead eyes (possibly just a side-effect of her terribly wooden acting), claims that after a ceremony the following day she will be able to see her diseased father. Lila is swept up in the witch-like Lemora’s promises, but when she catches her sucking the blood from a young boy, the jig appears to be up…

The blood-like wine, the blue moonlit nights and the danger that seems to be everywhere around her all serve as stand-ins for Lila’s confusion over her changing body and the number of choices she now has as a growing young lady. Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith, who became quite the B-movie queen, is very good as the young Lila and perfectly captures that transition from innocence to awakening. The film ran afoul of many Catholic groups for its immoral attributes (a lecherous priest, implied lesbianism, Lila’s fall from grace, etc.), but seems to have found traction with many film fans. Go ahead and give in to the temptation…

Would you like to know more…?

Occultober – Day 22 – Witching And Bitching

Witching And Bitching
Indulge me with Álex de la Iglesia’s gender warfare picture, Witching and Bitching. A coven of witches captures a gang of robbers and proceeds to emasculate them in their lair. The film leans far more towards comedy than any sort of occult terror, but the devil is in the details.

The film features the small town of Zugarramurdi, world famous as one of the central European hubs of Witchcraft, and judging by the local bar in the film, the townsfolk are none to shy about hiding things. The key witches are played three generations established actresses who, besides being semi-regulars for this director, often appear in Pedro Almodovar films. The film is batshit crazy and shows not an ounce of restraint, anywhere, but man oh man, it’s worth it for the opening heist involving a silver painted Jesus with a shotgun and a compact getaway car.

The real Basque-region locals are all extras in the big action-set piece climax which might be a tad heavy on CGI (at times resembling the Matrix sequels with all its complex wire-work) but makes wonderful use of Zugarramurdi’s spectacular witch-caves (“The Devil has no tail, but his pussy is like a cave”) and features enough practical location work to evoke everything from Peter Jackson’s Braindead to Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances. Like those films, there is a manic energy on display co-existing with a reverence for the tiniest details in any given scene. The sense of escalation achieved is a marvellous thing.

It’s a lark, but don’t let that stop you.

Would you like to know more…?

Occultober – Day 15 – Suspiria

Suspiria
When most people think of Dario Argento’s delirious candy-coloured 1977 masterpiece, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t normally the occult. It isn’t the witches hiding within the European dance school, the specific powers held by The Mother Of Sighs (aka Mater Suspiriorum) or even the possibility that those powers were assumed by the young American student who defeats the coven leader in the end.

No, what most people immediately bring to mind is the gorgeous style of the film: the Lite-Brite infused cinematography, the tension of the great prog-rock soundtrack by Goblin (essentially Argento’s “house band” for several films) and the onset of a slow burn of an LSD trip. It’s the kind of movie that is praised for each of its film frames possessing the ability to be framed separately as a piece of art. People rhapsodize about its numerous set pieces – like the early hanging that crashes through a glass ceiling or the discovery of the coven towards the end of the film – as well as its many finely crafted images that stick with you (a set of eyes at the window, an invisible shape framed by lightning, etc.). None of it seems to make much sense, but it doesn’t have to…

First of all, the nonsensical nature of the movie just adds to the creep factor. From that first blast of wind as the American student leaves the airport all the way to the last burning embers of the school, there’s an unsettling feeling to this movie. Each new Skittles coloured scene and every “why is there a room filled with barbed wire?” moment just adds to that sense that something is obviously askew here. Which gets us back to that coven of witches…

The supernatural is at play throughout the whole film – it controls the students, commands guide dogs and allows just about anything to happen. And that’s what a good supernatural/occult thriller should do – make you slightly uncomfortable and unsure about everything around you. The genius of Suspiria isn’t its narrative or tale of sorceresses. It’s the ability to make you look at those still frames and, even if just for a second, worry that The Mother Of Sighs might come right out and get you.

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF Review: Witching & Bitching

Witching And Bitching

They are in every city along the main tourist drags, those living statues of celebrities, comic book characters and horror icons just standing there, silently hoping for your loose change. In Álex De La Iglesia’s latest bit of mayhem, they’re not standing still for long; nothing here is ever silent for long. In broad daylight on the crowded streets of Madrid, Jesus Christ, a Toy Soldier, Spongebob Squarepants, the Invisible man and possibly Mickey & Minnie Mouse knock off a “We Buy Your Gold” shop. In a haze of sweat and bullets, they make off with the booty of a couple thousand golden wedding rings in a hijacked Taxi.

Painted head to to in silver body spray, Jesus, with a shotgun to match his chrome skin and thorny crown, is actually Jose, a single Dad who perhaps unwisely, choses to not only bring his 10 year kid, Sergio, along for the heist, but gives him a fairly active role in the job. While at gunpoint, one of the hostage gives Jose grief for involving a child in the crime for which violence will be inevitable. Jose defends himself stating that he only gets custody a couple days a week. The hostage sympathizes with the unfair court system that favours the mother. At one point during the escape, Sergio is firing two pistols, Chow Yun Fat style, at the police, over the shoulders of his dad who carries him. Do not look for cinéma vérité or neo-realism, or any kind of common sense here, as this is pure ‘id’ filmmaking from a director who particularly excels at this sort of middle-finger to propriety and society. Witching & Bitching may be less operatic than de la Iglesia’s The Last Circus, but more is as gonzo as anything he has done (and considering the man’s lengthy C.V. of genre genius, that is indeed saying something. In his sights here is the impotent machismo of men, and the vindictive revenge of women. And children being shat out the other side. Literally.

The women-bashing continues in the car as the both the cabbie and an unwilling passenger (a hostage taken when the cab was hijacked) also have significant lady problems that they are more than happy to moan about. The cabbie goes so far as to throw is own wedding ring on to the heap of golden bands acquired during the heist and offer to join up. Jose’s phone sounds off with a red klaxon ringtone, where the caller ID indicates his ex as “Armageddon.” She calls to check in on the incompetence of her ex husband and chew him out for the sheer practice of the act. Played by the diminutive but feisty Macarena Gomez an actress who is no stranger to black comedy spectacle – her performances in horror comedy Sexykiller and the over-the-top misogynous gangster picture Neon Flesh could be described as broad, but here that is just a very bad pun. After taking out her frustrations on her patients (she’s a nurse) when she finds out about the heist, she is soon hot on the trail of her ex-husband and child with two police inspectors tailing her to them.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 296 – Praying at the Juno Temple

Without much going on in theaters currently, Andrew and Kurt take to the internet and discuss the current VOD release of The Brass Teapot starring Juno Temple and Michael Angarano. A quiet little 80s style suburban fable with a a dash of Dante, a sprinkle of The Great Recession and a dollop of light bondage. Andrew sorts out his security issues with the Google-machine and the video edition returns. All the better to see you with (my dear) as we delve further into the Orson Scott Card boycott – which is a do-over of the Polanski debates had on previous Cinecast shows. Andrew finds pleasure in needling our frequent co-host, Matt Gamble, when he can’t defend himself. The Watch List is also Polanski heavy as well TV-talk with disparate subjects ranging from “Game of Thrones” season 2, and the long running medical dramedy with Zach Braff in “Scrubs.” We delve into the 1% defense examined in Richard Gere’s Arbitrage and sad-sack Stallone in James Mangold’s Copland.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


show content


show content


 

[mp3player width=560 height=76 config=cinecast.xml file=http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_13/episode_296.mp3] DOWNLOAD mp3 | 129 MB
if player is not working, try alternate player at bottom of this post

 

 
 
Full show notes and VIDEO version are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Rob Zombie’s “Lords of Salem” Trailer

 
Before Rob Zombie went off to do John Carpenter remakes, he made his movie name by releasing films that transcended the horror genre by being totally, vampire batshit insane. I’m talking most specifically about House of 1000 Corpses, but also to some extent The Devil’s Rejects. It looks like Zombie might be heading back into that dusty corner with his next picture, Lords of Salem.

He doesn’t seem to be deviating much in the casting department by once again casting his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie – though I believe this is her first lead performance in any of his films. That said, for old school horror fans and more pulpy stuff of the past 30-40 years (of which I really am not and therefore do not claim to know much), there do seem to be some interesting names (mostly women) floating past my eyes as I scroll through the IMDb casting chart: Dee Wallace, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, Ken Foree, Lisa Marie and Maria Conchita Alonso.

Possibly of more interest than those names, are some of the names in the “scenes deleted” section, which include Clint Howard and Udo Kier. Really? He deleted the Udo Kier scene(s)?

At any rate, here’s a look at the newest trailer for the film. I gotta say I’m generally not too interested in whatever the newest “scary movie” in theaters is, but Zombie’s particular style of the macabre intrigues and creeps me. So I’m genuinely looking forward to checking this one out. Not sure if or when a theatrical release will be forthcoming (at least probably not a wide release), but a VOD campaign is very likely through Magnet or Anchor Bay.

 

Hansel and Gretel: Kickers of Ass

Way back in 2009, director Tommy Wirkola released his Nazi Zomibes film, Dead Snow (Død snø), and it was a far better film than it had any right to be. Alas not a lot of people got to see the fun because it wasn’t widely released. Plus it wasn’t in English so most of the public wouldn’t bother anyway. But Wirkola is back… in a big way.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will be his English language debut and continues with the latest “trend” of bringing back well-known historical figures or legends and amping up the fantastical (see Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or Snow White and the Huntsman).

In this rendition, Hansel and Gretel are not just two helpless youngsters following a trail of bread crumbs. They’re two mean motor scooters out for blood; witch’s blood. So creepy creatures, big explosions, martial arts and bullet time are all employed as we watch Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton have their way with the supernatural.

The movie, much like Dead Snow (review), actually looks like a lot more fun than it probably should be. Rounding out the cast are Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Zoe Bell and Thomas Mann. A trailer with Spanish subtitles hit the tubes of You this morning and is probably worth taking a look at…